Friday, June 17, 2011


WHAT’S UP?   Everything!  In just 2 weeks, the garden has exploded with new life and everything is UP. We made the “Minnesota deadline” of planting by Memorial Day.  Some years it is hot and some years it is cold.  But rain or shine, this date has been instilled in us and we feel like the summer is gone if are late!  I am not a “real” gardener and I have to confess that the Farmer’s Market makes it easy to let someone else do all the work and you still get to enjoy all the fresh, local produce.  But seeing the wonder and joy on the face of a 6 year old when he realizes that the hard lumps he put in the ground are now beautiful “big” bean plants, gives me a whole new reason to have a garden.  It is proof positive that we can believe in the magic of springtime.

Gardening with grandchildren is a beautiful experience of connecting to the earth from planning to harvest.  It is a project with a purpose.  From sowing the seeds or setting out the plants, children can be involved in the whole process.    Sharing the adventure and sharing the abundant harvest with neighbors or food shelves gives the garden a special meaning.
As grandparents retire and join the ranks of senior citizens, it is important to choose a garden that works for you and your grandchildren….that is what makes it “Grand-Gardening”….a grand experience together….not hours and hours of heavy labor.   As long as plants have 6-8 hours of sunlight, decent soil and enough water, the garden will be a success. When grandchildren are small…start small, in the ground or in containers with a few of your favorites.  Let them grow up experiencing and EXPECTING the wonder.  Then they will be gardeners for life.  
Spending time with grandchildren in gardens can teach us many life lessons. Patience is part of every step!  Waiting for the end result and watching for the all the changes, brings joy along the way.  Understanding the balance of nature teaches tolerance, bad weather and crop damage helps children handle disappointment and provides opportunities for problem solving.  A job well done and seeing the rewards of their work brings pride and self esteem.         

There are many ways to garden….I grew up with a mother who could grow anything without adding much to the soil except for cow manure.  Her kind of gardening was fun for us because she planned early, middle and late summer menus around “what was ready to eat”.   I can still hear her say, “Let’s go pick a salad” or “Who wants to pick a soup?”  And I remember the wonder of peeking under the potato plants and taking just a few tiny potatoes for one of the early summer dinners…Creamed peas with the skinny little carrots from the thinning of the rows and the baby potatoes.  She decorated salads with Nasturtiums and Violets and batter fried squash blossoms.  Her passion for the garden didn’t surface in me when I was a mother…but now, as a grandmother, I am back in step with her!  And she is smiling…or, probably laughing as the time is approaching when I have to rejoice in the number of earth worms tilling the soil or pick off the potato bugs!

Plant what kids will eat but introduce new vegetables for taste tests.  Make a list of all the different ways you can use each vegetable.  Check out our Vegetable Soup Garden, Salsa Garden and Spaghetti Garden at

And you can plant a few rows of edible flowers.  I found another grandma with a flower garden plan: Grandma's Incredible Edible Flower Garden

Every garden store and website for gardens has mountains of material to help choose products and supplies and find answers to any of your questions.  There are You Tubes that give you directions for planting techniques for everything “grow-able”.  You can spend lots of money or almost nothing at all. All the information for every part of gardening is already available.   You can go online and find hundreds of sites for Kids Gardening ideas.  Green Grandparents does not sell or recommend any specific products.  We suggest “tried and true” methods that work with the most effectiveness and the least amount of work.  We want you to enjoy the garden together!

Our top 3 choices for Grand-Gardening are companies who have made a commitment to helping solve the world hunger problem. The Growing Connection at Collective Roots says it simply:  Cultivating Food…Connecting Minds….Harvesting Hope

Square-Foot Gardening   by Mel Bartholomew  
Earth Box Gardens
Global Buckets

This is our second year using the Earth Boxes on our deck and all the advertising claims are true.  This system is a perfect solution for growing your favorite things without the worry of watering if you are away. The water reservoir works.   And the boxes come with wheels!!!

We have MANY testimonies for Square-Foot Gardening.  We are doing a modified version with our grandchildren this year, complete with an 8 foot tall fence to keep the deer out! It is so discouraging to plant everything and have the deer think it is an invitation to a salad bar.

Global Buckets was started by two brothers in Colorado who were given Earth Boxes by their father.  They have created a system like the Earth Box using 2 two plastic and PVC pipes.  Read their story…they have made a commitment to help reduce global malnutrition.

Two more methods worth checking out:   Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lazzo uses a layering technique for soil preparation and Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell uses the “growing up” method instead of “growing out”  to solve space problems.

As I was dragging my feet trying to decide what kind of a garden to do…the old Nike slogan came to mind… JUST DO IT!    Plant something!   Let us know what works for you and your grandchildren.  And rejoice in the wonder!   
WHAT’S UP?  The garden and the website:   is  UP!
 A work in progress with many more ideas to connect children to Mother Earth ahead.

Monday, May 9, 2011


A-Awareness is the Answer,  B-Be A Believer ...If I am going to go down the alphabet, it is time for C-Claim A Cause.  I could stay right on track, but there are so many GREEN distractions along the way that lead to new information I want to share!  The GREEN Thing  is too good and too true to ignore and was sent to me just in time for Mother's Day.  As we celebrate our mothers and grandmothers, we can see them in this story.


In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”That’s  right, they didn’t have "the green thing" in her day.
Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant  to be washed and sterilized and refilled,
using the same bottles over and over.  So they  really  were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store  and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she’s right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts  –wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or  sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
 But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her  day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house –  not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish,  not a screen the size of the state of Montana.  In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand ,because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble  wrap.

And they didn’t  fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.
They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right... They didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a faucet or fountain when they were thirsty, instead of buying water in a plastic bottle. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor  just because the blade got dull.
But they didn’t have the
green thing in those days.

Back then, people took the bus, or walked, and kids rode their bikes to school
or rode the school bus, instead of turning to their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.
They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites hundreds of miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But that old lady is right....They didn’t have to talk about the "green thing" came was their way of living! 
It wasn't just the "thing" to was the ONLY "thing" to do...and everybody did it.  As we lead our busy lives, we need to think about what we are doing BEFORE we have to fix the problems we create.  My father had an old Webster Dictionary...well used and falling apart when we finally lost track of it.  In the front, he wrote poems about the parts of speech and special quotations.  The first quote was the old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Simple words we all have heard many times before.  Prevention takes a lot less work than all the curing we need to do in the world today!

                       The way that we live IS the message we give....Live GREEN.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Be a Believer:  Simple double meanings...easy to understand...but not so easy to actually think that each of us...young and old CAN work together to find solutions to the problems facing the environment. Today is a good day to believe we can make a difference for a GREENER tomorrow.  The PLACE to start is wherever you are and the TIME in NOW. 

We all know the answer to this question but some of us are slow to understand the importance of the answer.  is my favorite site for useful GREEN information.   “USDA label tells us that fruits and vegetables were not raised with manmade chemicals, pesticides, fossil fuels, sewage-based fertilizers or genetically modified seeds and that animals weren’t administered hormones or antibiotics.”  The bottom line…”Organic is more sustainable and healthier…for the environment and the farm workers and you and your family” Safer and  healthier…two words to remember.
All my projects and programs that focused on Mother Earth and led me to create Green Grandparents did not include changing my cupboards and grocery lists until September 2010.  I bought scattered organic products and bought most of my vegetables from a variety of Farmer’s Markets in season.   My husband has always bought organically grown lamb, bison and goats plus butter, eggs and artisan cheeses made from organic dairy products.   I supported local farms, but like so many other people, I opted for the less expensive price tag on many of the everyday things .  A friend introduced me to the EWG…the Environmental Working Group and I found the Dirty Dozen  and started comparing prices.  After one month of adding organic choices every time I went to the market,   I spent less than $10.00 making the “Big Switch”. 
The Big Switch is a slow change in thinking until the doing becomes automatic.     “I know I should”   “I wish I could”   “Maybe I can”…and then “I will try” …takes time. 
If it is difficult to find organic produce in your area or if  it is too costly, you can check the EWG’s list for the Clean 15 and you will still be able to have a variety of good fruits and vegetables for your family.  Here is who they are and what they do:

"At EWG, our team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pours over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions.  Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know."

Download the shopping list guides and see for yourself.  Make your decisions to make the Big Switch by doing your own research.  Fill in the spaces provided for your favorite foods and compare the prices.


  • Americans are a throw-away nation
  • Landfills are overflowing with plastic or styrofoam cups.  In 2010 the 23 billion throw-away cups could fill 4,700 average size homes.
  • Bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline
  • Packing your lunch can save $2,300 per year . . . enough for a cruise!
  • If every household wold just replace one box of virgin fiber facial tissue, we would save 163,000 trees.
A simple way to start:
  1. Buy only what you need and only what you KNOW that you will use.  This change alone will save thousands of pounds of waste in landfills.
  2. Check for products that have planet friendly packaging.
  3. Keep your reusable bags in your car (within reach) and bring them into the store.
  4. Try to buy paper towels and napkins with recycled fibers to save millions of trees.
  5. Support CSA Community Supported Agriculture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Living GREEN is not just a choice…it is an honor.  As we sit in a drum circle connecting to the heartbeat of Mother Earth…the message is very clear….We ARE the caretakers of the earth and it is our responsibility to preserve the beautiful gifts of nature for future generations.   
As I was doing research for Green Grandparents, I was overwhelmed by the amount of reading I thought was required to consider myself knowledgeable enough to “Pass It On”.   The more I learn, the more there is to learn.  Questions came faster than the answers and I soon realized that Going Green is a lifetime commitment…a journey filled with opportunities and adventures to share with our grandchildren.  Day by day I find new ways that I need to change my thinking, new products to try and new information to investigate.
If  AWARENESS is the answer….what are the questions?  There are only two.  Why? and How?  We all know the why….to save, protect and preserve the earth.  How?  That is where the awareness comes in…we need to look for the problems that our world faces every day and make a plan to be an active part of the solution. 
There is a HUGE amount of GREEN information to be found in books or on line.  There  are numerous environmental  websites and blogs and causes to claim.  We will provide links to organizations that speak to us with in their mission and purpose.  Books that follow the themes of this blog will be added to an ongoing list of titles for children and adults. 
Look for the Simple Facts at the end of each blog....5 facts to help us understand an environmental need and 5 ways to make it happen...basic things we can easily understand and do. 
Remember...I am not a scientist or environmental consultant. 
I am Just A Green Grandmother trying to do my part!